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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.
This saguaro cactus holds plenty of water and has a waxy layer for protection from the Sun.
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Courtesy of Corel Photography

Desert Plants

Surprisingly, there are many species of plants that survive in the desert. Most of them are succulents, which means they store water. Others have seeds that lay in the sand until rain comes. Regardless, these plants find a way to get water and protect themselves from the heat.

The most famous desert plant is the cactus. There are many species of cacti. The saguaro cactus is the tall, pole shaped cactus you see on television. The saguaro can grow up to 40 feet tall. It can hold several tons of water inside its soft tissue. Like all cacti, the saguaro has a thick, waxy layer that protects it from the Sun.

Other succulents include the desert rose and the living rock. This strange plant looks like a spiny rock. It's disguise protects it from predators. The welwitschia is a weird looking plant. It has two long leaves and a big root. This plant is actually a type of tree and it can live for thousands of years.

There are many other kinds of desert plants. Even in the worst conditions, these plants continue to thrive.

Last modified September 6, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

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